Sikkim landslides:1,200 stranded tourists to be airlifted; IMD issues red alert - Hindustan Times
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Sikkim landslides:1,200 stranded tourists to be airlifted; IMD issues red alert

Jun 15, 2024 01:05 PM IST

Nine people, six in North Sikkim and three in South Sikkim, have been killed since Sunday in landslides

The Sikkim government is planning to airlift around 1,200 tourists stranded in North Sikkim, which remained cut off for the second consecutive day after heavy rains triggered massive landslides in the Himalayan state.

People cross water on a temporary wooden bridge after a landslide following incessant rainfall in Sikkim’s Mangan on Thursday. (ANI)
People cross water on a temporary wooden bridge after a landslide following incessant rainfall in Sikkim’s Mangan on Thursday. (ANI)

Nine people, six in North Sikkim and three in South Sikkim, have been killed since Sunday in landslides.

“Around 1,200 tourists, including 15 foreign Nationals, are stranded at Lachung in North Sikkim’s Mangan district. The office of the chief secretary has already initiated talks with the Centre so that the stranded tourists may be airlifted,” said a top official of the state’s tourism and aviation department.

Attempts are also being made to open alternative routes so that the tourists may be safely evacuated by road.

In October 2023, Sikkim was hit by a flash-flood triggered by an outburst of a glacial lake located above 5,000 metres in North Sikkim. More than 100 people were killed.

“The tourists were all safe. There was adequate stock of food and ration to cater to all stranded tourists. They have been advised to stay put and avoid taking any risks,” said the official.

The tiny Himalayan state in eastern India has been receiving heavy rains since Sunday. On Friday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued red alert for North Sikkim, which comprises Mangan district for the next 48 hours.

“While red alert has been issued for Mangan district till Sunday morning, orange alert has been issued for all the six districts till around Tuesday morning,” said GN Raha, director of IMD’s regional office in Gangtok.

As power and communication lines in North Sikkim were snapped and the region remained cut off, IMD officials weren’t sure about the rain which Mangan district received in the last 24 hours.

Some places such as Yuksom in West Sikkim received around 70 mm rain between Thursday morning and Friday morning. Namthang in South Sikkim received around 60mm.

Chief minister Prem Singh Tamang, who cut short his Arunachal Pradesh visit and returned to Sikkim on Friday, chaired a high-level meeting at Mintokgang - the official residence of the chief minister.

“This meeting was crucial for strategising and coordinating our response efforts to restore normalcy and ensure the safety, and well-being of our residents,” said Tamang in a press release.

A helpline number was launched for the people to report any kind of disasters during the monsoon season.

Mangan district superintendent of police (SP) Sonam Detchu Bhutia said that places such as Djongu, Chungthang and Mangan Bazar were cut off and one relief camp has been opened at Pakshep.

Out of the six people killed in North Sikkim, three were from Pakshep and three from Ambhithang.

In West Bengal, where swollen Teesta River is posing danger to places like Teesta Bazar, Najok Busti and Melli under Kalimpong district, the administration held a high-level meeting and took stock of the situation.

The road going to Darjeeling via Peshok continues to remain closed for the second consecutive day. The National Highway 10, considered to be the lifeline of Sikkim and Kalimpong, continued to remain in precarious condition and many areas have become more vulnerable post October 4 Teesta flash flood.

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